Thanksgiving Chicago Trip Diary + Photos

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Happy Sunday! It’s December and I’m all at once very stressed and very excited. I’m pumped for holiday celebrations (secret Santas, white elephants, and the like), for my birthday (the 21st), Christmas, New Year’s, and just RELAXING. But at the same time, I know that leading up to the relaxing will be a couple of very difficult weeks of juggling school, clubs, blog, life and trying to stay a sane, healthy, friendly, happy individual. Eek. Anyone else on this boat? Or on this sleigh, should I say? It is December after all.

For now, I'm going to take a chill pill and tell you about a little trip I took with my family a week ago to the not-so-little city of Chicago. This was our second trip in just under a month. I guess we just loved it so much we couldn’t wait to be back? Or maybe it was just Thanksgiving Break and we didn’t want to cook so we decided to get outta town. I’m leaning towards the latter.

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This second trip started out a little funky. I hopped into the car all excited with downloaded episodes of Stranger Things cued up on the iPad. Then I realized, oh right, I get motion sickness. But I also love Stranger Things. But… I get motion sickness. So the ride consisted of watching warily until I got nauseous, then suddenly ripping my headphones out to close my eyes and lean against the window until it passed.

It was in this woozy state that I learned that my parents had ordered and were picking up a platter of hors d'oeuvres and 40 canneles from this woman who did catering out of her house. I was confused but hungry and pleased. You guys, those canneles were heaven. Custardy on the inside, crispy caramel-y on the outside. I’d totally make them if they didn’t take 3 DAYS OF PREPPING, um haha no thanks I’ll just eat them.

So then we found our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Chicago, which we somehow got for very cheap because my parents are expert deal finders. It was nice, not as cute as the hotel we stayed in last time, but clean and comfortable and what more can you expect?

We were all kinda dead so we just sat/lay there for a while. Guess what I did. (if you guessed Stranger Things you win). We finally decided to get up off our butts and explore the city we’d driven 3 hours to and paid good money to stay in. So off we went. We checked out Millenium Park, where we took pictures pretending to be supporting the Bean’s entire weight with our little arms.

If you need me I'll be here.

If you need me I'll be here.

We searched for a restaurant that was open on Thanksgiving evening, which proved to be harder than we’d thought it be. We finally stumbled upon Su Casa, an adorable, cheerful, colorful little Mexican restaurant with a plaque inside that reads “How beautiful it is to do nothing, and after doing nothing, to rest.” I had chalupas, chips and guac, and shared two desserts. It would have been three had they not run out of Tres Leches cake (undeniably the best dessert of them all).

When we got back to the hotel we figured out how to connect to the TV using Bluetooth and blasted Macklemore’s “Willy Wonka”. That was fun.

The next morning we got ourselves to a Protein Bar for breakfast, although we were so late they weren’t even serving breakfast anymore. I got a Kale Caesar salad, which didn’t thrill me, so note to self to not order that again. Normally I LOVE Protein Bar though. Their smoothies are A+.

We went back to Millenium Park to check out the crazy long lines for ice skating. The sun was shining so brightly that people who fell on the ice got their pants soaked. It definitely didn’t feel like the end of November. We also saw the big Christmas tree, studded with what seemed like thousands of tiny lights. I think it looks even better in the daytime.

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We then wanted to become people of culture so we walked to the Chicago Cultural Center for a crash course. I left feeling even more confused about what culture is or what defines art. But I took some pretty photos. I also got a free artsy poster, so that was a plus.

The Christkindl market was just as cozy and bright as last year, and just as expensive. That and the huge lines were why we left without buying anything. We went straight to the place that had been pulling us like a magnet ever since we’d arrived. We finally succumbed to the draw of the Nutella crepes at Eataly. I learned that strawberries and Nutella are a match made in heaven and that even the biggest crepes go down far too quickly.

I swear this trip was mainly alternating between walking and eating, but it’s a wonderful way to get to know a city. After we got finished with our next round of walking, we ate at the Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant where I had a sudden craving for chicken pot pie and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dessert was this incredible bread pudding that actually blew my mind. Try iiiit.

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The next morning we actually made it to Protein Bar on time, and I had the peanut butter and acai protein plus oatmeal. Those people know how to make some GOOD oatmeal. They use a blend of steel-cut oats and quinoa and cook it just right. Because how frustrating (and way too common) are mushy oats? Blegh. This stuff was hearty, filling, sweet, and delicious.

We drove out to IKEA for some shopping. Remarkably, all I got was a pretty roll of red and white twine for this year’s Christmas presents. I felt so frugal. Good job me. We also had some excellent meatballs at the cafe.

And after that, it was time for the long drive home. Tired, but happy.

I think that describes me for the past month. Tired, but happy.

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How about you? How are you feeling as the crazy, wonderful month of December rolls in?

Have an amazing week x

Solar Eclipse 2017 Road Trip Diary // pt.2

Hello everyone and happy Thursday! Or more accurately, happy almost-Friday! During the summer, the days blurred together and a Friday was no more exciting than a Tuesday. Now that school has started I am acutely aware of the days of the week and have been looking forward to Friday since Monday! :)

In the spirit of Fridays and weekends and vacations, I wanted to finish telling you guys about my incredible, spectacular road trip in August to see the solar eclipse. If you haven't read the first part, easy peasy, just click on over here.

Done? Okay, awesome! So when we left off I had just had an astounding cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore (which later had consequences, as you'll soon find out). Dun, dun, DUN!!! Happy reading :)

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Our next stop was Washington D.C. We briefly visited the National Museum of American History, which we had already been to, so we just took a quick look and ate in the grossly overpriced and underwhelming cafe. Ah well, food is food. We walked to the Washington Monument and my brother ran around photographing planes until the suffocating heat forced us back inside. We had some freezing cold smoothies and hopped in the car to drive on.

Somewhere in the trip - I honestly can't remember when or what city it was - I missed a city because I got an ocular migraine in the morning (which is an explanation for a long post but basically I haven’t had them since I started eating healthy but the combo of too much sugar + not enough water brought one on). So I spent the day sleeping and feeling really weak. 

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Once I was back on my feet and feeling like my normal Beatrice-ish self, we visited the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia where we got solar eclipse glasses and watched a planetarium show about the big event. The museum was huuuge and we soon got hungry, so we grabbed Subway sandwiches. They didn't have any avocado, but no worries, I brought my own ;)

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We walked around a bit in the evening sun and explored some old architecture and monuments. We visited a beautiful cemetery where we spotted a little lizard that made me jump as I was trying to record a video of it.

Next was Charleston. I was so pumped for this one, and for good reason, because the city was even cuter than in the photos. It was already late so we didn’t get out of the car, but we drove around and watched the sun set as tourists milled about all dressed up for dinner (it was a Sunday evening), street performers sang and played their instruments on every corner, and glowing lights came on. We found a hotel a little ways out to rest up because...

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The next day was the BIG DAY. We really didn't have a plan for where we would watch the eclipse from, but we ended up in Santee, South Carolina, which was right on the centerline of the path of totality. This meant we would get to see the full eclipse for about 2 minutes 30 seconds! We were starving, so we first stocked up on some food, then parked ourselves along the edge of a highway. It was incredible how many people were there! Cars were packed in as far as the eye could see, and police cars slowly drove back and forth keeping an eye on everyone.

I set up my camera, and got a decent view by attaching my solar eclipse glasses to my lens using a rubber band. (#diy). It didn’t get darker until the moon had just about swallowed the entirety of the sunlight. Then, there was a gray tint to the surroundings, like smoke. It was bizarre. Nothing like a sunset, more like a sunfade. I felt like I needed to rub my eyes.

Everyone got out of their cars for the climax. As the moon slowly slid into place and a halo of light erupted around the sun, people cheered and clapped. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was beautiful. So many people had driven hundreds of miles and gathered in one place just to look at the sky for a moment of darkness.

And then, it was over as quickly as it had begun. The sun peeked out and immediately overtook the darkness with its blinding light.

We then drove back to Charleston, this time to walk around. We saw a gorgeous, pineapple-shaped fountain, walked on cobblestone streets (quite dangerous, actually, don’t sprain your ankle!), and had ice cream at Häagen-Dazs. I had the Belgian Chocolate flavor and it was absolutely incredible. If you know me you know that I freaking love chocolate (I mean, just look at my Instagram bio) and I hadn’t had it for a while, so I was so ready. It was perfectly smooth, with little bits of shaved chocolate throughout, and it was just sweet enough. I know what I’m having the next time I go to Häagen-Dazs!

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Our next stop was Myrtle Beach, the longest of the trip. I believe we stayed for 3 nights. It was so nice to finally just relax. We went to the beach, swam in the pool, and walked along the avenue lined with shops and cafes. Every night we played UNO, which occasionally got very intense :) We had dinner at a super yummy restaurant called ART Burger Sushi Bar, and went on a ride on the SkyWheel, a big fancy ferris wheel near the ocean.

After that, it was time to make the long trek home. We didn’t make as many stops this time around because we were all pretty tired and just wanted to make it home to our familiar beds and showers :)

We stopped in Cincinnati, where we hoped to find a boat tour but ended up just walking around and having dinner (I had an amazing avocado burger).

We drove through Indianapolis to see the city at night and stumbled upon a motorcycle rally, which was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Hundreds and hundreds of shiny, colorful, tricked out motorcycles were packed onto the streets.

Once in Chicago, we spent the afternoon at IKEA, which was an absolute dream. They had released their new collection and had a whole bunch of new set-ups, so I was basically walking had me drooling.

Finally, we arrived home. One of the best things in life is sleeping in your own big, pillowy, soft (or firm!) bed after a long, exhausting trip. Ah, I need to stop. It is 10:30pm as I write this.

DC
National Museum of American History

Columbia
South Carolina State Museum

Charleston
Häagen-Dazs

Myrtle Beach
ART Burger Sushi Bar
SkyWheel

Cincinnati
Brothers Bar&Grill

Chicago (Schaumburg)
IKEA

Sooo, my question for you is - of these cities, which would you most like to visit/go back to?

I hope you all have an amazing Thursday, make the most of it!